Alumni Win Fulbrights and National Science Foundation Fellowships

Published: May 13, 2014

Five Evergreen alumni have been awarded some of the nation’s highest scholarship honors in the sciences and humanities for the 2014-2015 academic year. Two have been awarded Fulbright Awards for research overseas, while three will receive National Science Foundation graduate fellowships each totaling $150,000 toward their doctorate degrees.

Nisa Karimi ‘09, Christina Masden ‘11 and Kari Gathier ’00 are among the 2000 graduate students awarded the NSF fellowship this year.  The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to advance the progress of science and is a major funding source for research in American colleges and universities. Nine National Science Foundation Fellowships have been awarded to Evergreen alumni since 2010.

“It means so much that the NSF recognizes my potential, and I'm unbelievably proud to be a fellow,” said Christina Masden, who is pursuing a doctorate focusing on the interaction between humans and computers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She graduated Evergreen with a bachelor’s of arts and a bachelor’s of science, focusing on both science and humanities.

“My chosen field is highly interdisciplinary, and my undergraduate studies at Evergreen were essential for preparing me for the work that I'm doing now,” Masden said.  “However, the most important things I learned at Evergreen went beyond academics. I refer to the life lessons I learned as frequently as I refer to my notes and textbooks.”

Kaye Michalak ’13 has been awarded a Fulbright English language teaching assistantship in Turkey. Samuel Kaviar, who graduated in 2012, has been awarded a Fulbright full research grant to study sloth habitat in Panama.

“I have a ton of gratitude to the Evergreen professors and the students who’ve supported me, and without whom I wouldn’t be doing this work, “said Kaviar.  “I hope the Fulbright will allow me to spread access to the scientific method to underserved communities to study interesting species around the world.”

Kaviar will be continuing and deepening his undergraduate research on the three-toed pygmy sloth, which are only endemic to the 1.7 square mile island of Escudo de Veraguas, off the Caribbean coast of Panama.   He and two other Evergreen students will continue their outreach and partnership with the local indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé communities to whom the island of Escudo belongs.

Michalak will be an English teaching assistant, while working on a project she started studying abroad in Morocco as an undergrad at Evergreen. She will be looking at what ‘modernity’ and ‘liberation’ mean and look like in Turkey, specifically through the eyes of women.

“It honestly was a bit of a shock to receive the scholarship,” she said.  “It still doesn't feel like anything has happened and probably won't until I actually go to Turkey,” said Michalak. “I’m excited to continue researching what interests me and go into this adventure with an open mind.”

“I am immensely proud of the hard work that these two students put into their Fulbright proposals, and know that they will represent Evergreen well by virtue of the depth of character and commitment they will bring to their overseas work,” said Michael Clifthorne, coordinator for international programs and academic advisor at Evergreen.

Since 2000, eight Fulbrights have been awarded to Evergreen students, most recently in 2011. The Fulbright Program is a program of highly competitive grants for international educational exchange in the fields of art, academia, business, journalism, and education. The program is named after U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, who founded the program after the Second World War.